Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Louisiana

contesting a will with undue influence

My father recently died in testate with a multi million dollar estate. he died in march 2004 and his final will was in olographic form dated aug 17 2003. the bulk of his estate was left to his 5th wife. the natural children feel like we have a great undue influence claim against the wife as she has for years tried to alienate him from his children.we also feel we could challenge his mecompetency at the time of the writing of the will but we will have to get the medical records first. we have already filed, in proper person, a petition to invalidate the will.we have example after example of undue influence including fabricated events by her to cast the natural children in a false light.she also signed a prenup. in a nutshell, what are our chances of being successful with this challenge? I read where there was a will challenged with undue influence in the third circuit i believe in 2001. the challenge was successful with far less criteria brought to the challenge than we have. we have the evidence to back up our claims.They were married 14 years. she was 33 when they married. he was almost 70....are you getting the picture??..i am grateful for and am awaiting your reply! thank you!

Asked on 5/03/04, 10:25 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Hardy Parkerson Retired Attorney; now Law Professor
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Re: contesting a will with undue influence

Dear LawGuru Friend,

Looks like you have already received two good answers to your question. If you are near New Orleans, I suggest you hire that lawyer Staub, who answered you. Sounds like he knows what he is doing. Also, Casanave in Lake Charles is no slouch himself. Nor even I. I would consider taking your case only if it were in Calcasieu Parish. I have enough to do already without having to go out of town to try a case. That case will have to be prepared for trial and tried, and maybe even handled on appeal all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court. You seem to have answered your question yourself when you said the Third Circuit ruled in favor of contesting a will on facts less meritable than those of your own case. So it looks like you have a case that is worth bringing and litigating. However, doing it PRO SEE, in my opinion,is a big mistake. I do not know that I have ever seen a PRO SE civil suit won. Not to say one hasn't been won, just that I do not recall ever having seen a successful one by a PRO SE litigant. I have a great respect for lawyers, especially when it comes to brining and litigating lawsuits. Bringing a law suit is the easy part. Preparing it for trial and trying it and winning it are the hard part. I suggest you get yourself a good lawyer and go for it! Nothing ventured, noting gained. If you do not bring the suit, you surely are not going to get any any more of your father's multi-million dollar estate than he has already left you in that olographic will. Feel free to call me and discuss this matter by phone! There is no charge for just talking. However, the sooner you get yourself a good lawyer, the better chances you are going to have at winning this matter. Best of luck!

Sincerely,

Hardy Parkerson, Atty.

Lake Charles, LA

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Answered on 5/04/04, 1:44 am
Perry Staub Taggart Morton
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Re: contesting a will with undue influence

Louisiana is actually pretty lax in its assessment of what cpnstitutes competency sufficient to challenge a testament. Basically, all the decedent needs to have is an understanding that something given away is irrevocably gone and the property of another. There are many facts that play into the ultimate analysis though, including medical records, form of the will, identity and circumstances of its execution, etc.

Undue influence is a wholly different issue and attacks on this basis under the circumstances you describe have decent chances of at least partial success. gain the cases are very fact intensive and you would need to know a great deal more than is presented in your posting to answer your questions.

I assume from your posting that you challenged the will in the probate proceedings themselves and that no judgment of possession has yet been rendered. This is good, as the timeliness of attack is also important.

If you care to relay additional facts, I will be glad to assist. I have handled two multimillion dollar will contests in the past two years. One settled for half of the estate and the other is ongoing at the present time.

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Answered on 5/03/04, 11:02 am
Andrew Casanave Andrew M. Casanave
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Re: contesting a will with undue influence

You definitely need the guidance of a capable lawyer. The facts and law must be evaluated. Proving incompetence and undue influence are not easy tasks. You need professional guidance and representation.

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Answered on 5/03/04, 11:26 am

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